In the carrying-out of my daily affairs, I don’t have need of public transit very often, opting to walk as often as possible. Although there have been periods in my life when I was a regular strap-hanger. During a recent cold snap, I did avail myself of the warmth of Montreal’s Metro. It was the first time I had been on the subway since the pandemic. I was pleased to see all my fellow commuters wearing masks, and most practicing social distancing, as best as possible in a confined place.
While some things have changed since my last foray underground, others have not. People are still focused on their electronic devices, often to the point of danger. On at least two occasions during my short jaunt, I witness near-collisions. The first was caused by a man getting off the Metro car and, eyes glued to the phone in his hand, oblivious to others, being shoved by another guy rushing to get on the train. Could he not have simply gone for four seconds without looking at his phone, while disembarking, to pay attention? Maybe even three seconds.
The other incident involved that omnipresent public transit menace, yes, I write of the dreaded backpack. Don’t get me wrong, when removed and placed on the floor out of harm’s way, as clearly requested, I have no problem. Yet, when worn on the back while on public transit they are a serious nuisance. Frankly, I feel that if a person wants to keep their backpack on, and thereby occupy two places, and occasionally cause havoc as they swing around and knock into people, they should have to pay two fares.
… I feel that if a person wants to keep their backpack on, and thereby occupy two places, and occasionally cause havoc as they swing around and knock into people, they should have to pay two fares
Some of these backpacks are huge. What the hell is in there? We are often told that we are heading in the direction of a paperless society. And while that may be true in some senses – I have not had cash in my wallet for several years, and that’s not an indication of my financial standing, just a preference for electronic payments – it appears students are lugging around a whole lot of paper.
This is a problem that has arisen within the last few decades. When I went to elementary school we carried our things in a schoolbag. It was worn on the back like a backpack but was not a backpack. In high school, on those rare occasions when we brought home books, we carried them by hand. Ditto for college, no bags, just hands. But, once you made it to university when things got serious and futures were often determined, the method of toting books and papers was a briefcase. Yes indeed, no self-respecting university student during the late seventies would have been caught dead with a backpack. Backpacks were for camping. Period. By all means use backpacks, but please don’t inflict them on others.
… no self-respecting university student during the late seventies would have been caught dead with a backpack
Now if we can get back to those nifty metal lunch boxes, including the fitted thermos …